This shows a woman listening to music.
Based on the findings of this research, investigating the impact of groove rhythm-based exercise is expected to introduce "enriched-exercise" as an enjoyable, motivating, and efficient approach for enhancing brain function. Credit: Neuroscience News

Groove Rhythm in Exercise Boosts Brain Function

Summary: A new study has found that combining aerobic exercise with groove rhythm (GR) music can significantly enhance executive function in the brain.

Conducted with 48 healthy participants aged 18-26, the research revealed that exercising to GR not only increased enjoyment but also activated the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) more than standard exercise. Participants who felt their bodies resonate with the GR experienced an elevated sense of excitement and demonstrated improved attention, concentration, and judgment.

This discovery is particularly relevant in Japan, where less than 30% of the population regularly exercises, suggesting that GR-enhanced exercise could offer a more enjoyable and cognitively beneficial approach to fitness.

Key Facts:

  1. Exercising to groove rhythm music enhances executive function in the prefrontal cortex.
  2. Participants reported increased excitement and body resonance with the rhythm during GR exercise.
  3. The study suggests GR-based exercise as a potential tool for improving brain function and making exercise more enjoyable.

Source: University of Tsukuba

Listening to rhythmic music, particularly music with a pronounced groove, elicits a heightened sense of excitement, prompting individuals to instinctively move their bodies in sync with the rhythm. This natural inclination to move in harmony with music is referred to as groove.

Notably, aerobic exercise, even at low-intensity levels, stimulates the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) of the brain, thereby improving executive functions such as attention, concentration, and judgment.

Building upon previous research, it was discovered that individuals with a high affinity for groove rhythm (GR) experienced increased executive function in the prefrontal cortex simply by listening to GR.

Consequently, the research team explored the potential synergy of combining GR with exercise to amplify the enjoyment and cognitive benefits of physical activity.

In this study, 48 healthy participants aged 18-26 engaged in 3 min of very-light intensity aerobic exercise set to GR. The results revealed that participants who reported their bodies “resonating with the rhythm” during exercise, coupled with a subjective sense of “increased excitement,” demonstrated enhanced executive function in the prefrontal cortex and increased activation in the left DLPFC compared to standard very light-intensity exercise. These results were reasonable considering that music preferences vary among individuals.

In Japan, where less than 30% of the population maintains a regular exercise routine, the development of inclusive exercise programs is crucial. Based on the findings of this research, investigating the impact of groove rhythm-based exercise is expected to introduce “enriched-exercise” as an enjoyable, motivating, and efficient approach for enhancing brain function.


This work was supported in part by Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Grant [16H06405 (HS), 18H04081 (HS), and 18J10631 (TF)]; the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) Grant [JPMJMI19D5 (HS)]; Meiji Yasuda Life Foundation of Health and Welfare Grant (TF), and a grant from the Advanced Research Initiative for Human High Performance (ARIHHP), University of Tsukuba.

About this music, exercise, and neuroscience research news

Author: KAMOSHITA Kimio
Source: University of Tsukuba
Contact: KAMOSHITA Kimio – University of Tsukuba
Image: The image is credited to Neuroscience News

Original Research: Open access.
Groove Rhythm Enhances Exercise Impact on Prefrontal Cortex Function in Groove Enjoyers” by SOYA, Hideaki et al. Neuroscience


Groove Rhythm Enhances Exercise Impact on Prefrontal Cortex Function in Groove Enjoyers


  • The effects of exercise with groove rhythm (GREX) have varied in individuals.
  • GREX enhanced executive function and PFC activity in GrooveEx-familiar participants.
  • Psychological responses predicted GREX effecs on PFC activity and executive function.
  • Feelings of audiomotor entrainment and excitement to GREX were key factors.


A positive affective response modulates the effects of aerobic exercise on prefrontal executive function (EF). Groove rhythm (GR), eliciting the feeling of wanting to move to music, is useful for inducing positive affective response during exercise.

Three minutes of listening to GR activated the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (l-DLPFC) and enhanced EF in participants who had higher psychological responses to GR.

This finding prompted us to test the hypothesis that the combination of GR and exercise (GREX) induces positive psychological responses that enhance PFC function through entrainment of body movements and musical beats. 41 participants were administered two experimental conditions: three min of very light-intensity (30% V̇O2peak) exercise combined with GR and combined with a white-noise metronome (WMEX).

Before and after exercise, participants performed a Stroop task and were monitored for l-DLPFC activity with functional near-infrared spectroscopy. GREX enhanced EF and l-DLPFC activity in participants who experienced greater subjective feelings of audiomotor entrainment and increased excitement with GREX. These psychological responses were predictive of the impact of GREX on l-DLPFC activity and EF.

These findings, together with previous results, support the hypothesis that GR allows us to boost the cognitive benefits of exercise via l-DLPFC activity only in those who enjoy groove, and suggest that subjective audiomotor entrainment is a key mechanism of this boosting effect.

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